KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan intelligence agents on Sunday shot and killed a man in a sport utility vehicle that officials said was packed with explosives, stopping what they described as an attempt to set off an explosion in a neighborhood of narrow streets lined with foreign embassies.
About the same time, the Taliban set off three car bombs in two provinces near the capital. But the bombs did minimal damage, officials said, and the death toll from the attacks was low. In addition to the attackers, two security guards and a police officer were killed and five other people wounded, including one of the insurgents who got away.
Taliban insurgents were behind the three explosions in the provinces, said Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the group. But he disavowed knowledge of the attempt in Kabul, saying that Taliban commanders in the city had no plans for an attack on Sunday.
While it is not unusual for the Taliban to deny having a hand in a failed attack, much about the attempted bombing remained murky, with officials hailing Afghan security forces for acting quickly but offering only the barest of details about how the man identified as a bomber was spotted.
Kabul's police chief, Gen. Mohammed Ayoub Salangi, said the suspect was trying to pass through a checkpoint in a Toyota sport utility vehicle when he was recognized by agents from the country's intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security.
The man "was gunned down," General Salangi said. The agents had to act quickly, he added, saying that there was no time to inspect the vehicle or question the driver because that would have given him the chance to detonate the explosives.
General Salangi, who in an earlier statement said there were two men in the car, did not say how or why the agents recognized the driver. He said the bomb was quickly defused and carted away.
The bombing attempt, in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, led some embassies to briefly close the streets where they are located and where they control security. The spot where the man was shot is less than a mile from the United States Embassy and the headquarters of the American-led coalition.
Earlier in the day, in Jalalabad, a city in eastern Afghanistan, a bomber in a Toyota Corolla targeted the intelligence service, officials said, detonating explosives in the car outside a building used by the agency. Two guards were killed and a third was wounded, said Hazrat Mohammad Mashraqiwal, a police spokesman in Jalalabad.
Two people in another car later tried to enter the district governor's compound in the Baraki Barak district of Logar Province, south of Kabul. But they were stopped by police officers guarding the compound, prompting one man to flee and the other to detonate the bomb, officials said.
One police officer was wounded in the attack, along with the man who fled.
Around dawn, a minivan packed with explosives was set off at a police post near Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar Province. One officer was killed and two others were wounded, an official said.
Sharifullah Sahak contributed reporting.world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.